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Apr 30, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The Derby Trial the last prep for the Kentucky Derby was run at Churchill Downs on Saturday April 24th over a sloppy racetrack. For the first time in many years this race actually had some punch to it with a few horses trying to get more graded earnings to use towards running in the Kentucky Derby the following Saturday.

            Eight horses went postward in this Grade III, run at one mile with a purse of $200,000. EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY was sent off at 3-2 coming off a win at 3-5 in the Bay Shore at Aqueduct despite drifting out in the lane and running with his head cocked. His connections said that if he won the Derby Trial he was going to move onto the Kentucky Derby. Breaking well from the outside post, he was sent right to the lead while setting a solid half mile in 45:1 while being pursued by HURRICANE IKE whom he had beaten in the Bay Shore. As they passed the ¾ mark in the race, HURRICANE IKE took over the lead and opened up through the stretch scoring by almost three lengths over AIKENITE, a Todd Pletcher trainee who was once thought of as a top Derby prospect. AIKENITE finished 6 and ¾ lengths ahead of third place finisher PLEASANT PRINCE who was looking to earn some money to get into the Derby but he had to settle for the show spot more than four lengths ahead of a tiring EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY. After the race EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY’s trainer Gary Contessa said that he would keep this horse strictly as a sprinter.

            On Friday April 30th, Belmont Park opened its doors for the Spring/Summer meeting that will run through Sunday July 18th. The racing days will be Wednesday through Sunday with two exceptions. They will be open on Memorial Day May 31st and Monday July 5th. The first post will be at 1 p.m. except for Belmont Stakes day, June 5th when post time is 11:35 a.m. There will be only one sunset racing post time this year and that will come on Friday June 18th when first post is 3 p.m.

            The highlight of the Belmont meeting will come on June 5th when they host the third and final jewel in the Triple Crown, the “Test of Champions”, the Belmont Stakes. In addition to the Belmont Stakes there will be five other stakes races that day with three Grade I races.

            For those looking to take the family out to Belmont they host Breakfast at Belmont every weekend with the exception of Belmont Stakes weekend, June 5th and 6th. There is not charge to get in for the Breakfast and buying the breakfast is optional. They have barn tours, a paddock show and a starting gate demonstration. It is a great way to get a weekend of racing started. On Sundays Belmont hosts family fun days out in its enormous backyard with different games and activities for the whole family to enjoy. They have pony rides, a petting zoo, face painters and giant inflatable toys.

            For those interested in the racing side of things that want to test their skills, the Belmont Park Handicapping Contest will be held on June 26th and 27th, a Saturday and Sunday.

            When betting the races at Belmont— this year might be a little different. With Monmouth Park set to opens its doors in mid-May with a daily average purse distribution of $1 million dollars there will be a lot of top jockeys that will be riding at Monmouth on the weekends. Garrett Gomez has said that he will ride at both Belmont at Monmouth but because Monmouth is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays expect to see Gomez at Belmont only midweek. Ramon Dominguez has to be the favorite again to win another jockey’s title and with many riders riding at Monmouth on the weekends it could make his task a little easier.

            When betting the trainers, ones that you always have to look for are Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen and Rick Dutrow Jr. However, they will all have strings at Monmouth so try to see where their best stock is this Summer. With all that being said it should be a great meeting with a lot of betting opportunities and if you get a chance come visit beautiful Belmont Park. I know I will be!

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